Rising shuttle star - Lekha
The stage was set for a grand final of the women's open singles event
in the SSC Badminton tournament 2009. In the finals 16 year old young
sensation Lekha Shehani was taking on one of Sri Lanka's finest and most
experienced women's champions Chandrika De Silva.
Although Lekha has been in so many under 19 finals and won them this
was easily the biggest match she had faced in her life. The large
crowd,the cheering and playing against her childhood idol Chandrika De
Silva didn't help her to ease out her nerves.
The first set was a closely contested one although Chandrika won
21/16. Lekha was determined in the 2nd set and was more disciplined and
she won it convincingly 21/11. Even Lekha coudnt believe the scoreline
21/11 and the fact that she beat the champion with a large margin of
points. In the 3rd set which was the tie breaker the score was 20/20.
The atmosphere was electric as not even the most optimist fan would have
imagined such a tight nail biting finish.
The crowd were ecstatic because of the wonderful performance by Lekha
against top seed Chandrika and they were screaming Come on Lekha, come
on........Alas experience proved to be the decisive factor as Chandrika
won the set 22/20 and eventually won the game but the crowd's favourite
was the rookie Lekha.
Lekha who is a student of Our Lady of Victories Convent is not an
The way she got involved in Badminton is an interesting story. In
2001 a 8 year old Lekha was forced to select a sport and she
accidentally chose Badminton.
After seeing her performance in the first tournament Miss Himali
Fernando who was apparently Lekha's first coach asked Lekha's father to
bring her for practices because of the potential she displayed even as a
8 year old.
Lekha still remembers Miss Himali who taught her the basics in
Badminton and is forever grateful for her. Lekha is the eldest in the
family and has 2 younger brothers and a sister. In her first
international tournament in Singapore in the year 2005 Lekha managed to
go through to the quarter finals.
Lekha has maintained a flawless record in the all island Junior
Nationals by winning the under 13 championship in 2004 and 2005, under
15 championship in 2006 and under 17 championship in 2007, 2008 and
Lekha enjoyed a fantastic season in 2009. She was crowned the triple
champion as she bagged the under 19 singles,doubles and mixed doubles at
the Junior Nationals. She continued her purple patch as she made a clean
sweep in the SSC open by winning the under 19 singes and doubles
Lekha stole the spotlight and created sporting headlines as she
registered a shock win over Olympic player and top shuttler Thilini
She also came very close to winning the women's open and the mixed
doubles along with her doubles partner Diluka Karunarathne, who acts as
her present coach as well. According to Lekha the reasons for her
tremendous successes recently is mainly because of the intensive
training she receives as a member of the pool for the South Asian games.
Her current coach Diluka Karunarathne has helped her to enhance her
talent but the biggest influence and the turning point of her career was
the physical training given by S. Jayathilaka who is the current
national physical trainer. It has helped her to improve on her stamina
and endurance which is very important in winning rallies.
Although Lekha is a good all round player her favorite shot
undoubtedly is the smash. She also mentioned that she has to improve in
her back hand so that she can be a complete player like,her favourite
player, king of badminton Niluka Karunarathne. Lekha prefers to play the
defensive game and likes to tire her opponent by having several rallies
and then go on the offensive to gain points.
Not only is Lekha a champion badminton player but has also
represented her school at the provincial level in Athletics. She is the
current games captain in school where she has been an inspiration for
youngsters to take on Badminton as a sport.
Lekha's younger sister and brother have also followed the footsteps
of their big sister as they also have been successful in Badminton.
In fact her younger brother was the runner up in the under 13
badminton championships this year.
Lekha is amiably supported by her beloved parents,her school
principal Sister Sujeewa Nonis and vice principal cum mistress in charge
of sports Sister Priyantha Mudalige. Lekha's immediate dream for the
future is to perform well in the upcoming all important South Asian
"I am not at all disappointed,with a bit more experience and training
I could win the title" those were the courageous words of Lekha Shehani
after the 3 grueling sets of intense stroke play against Chandrika de